While they're not sexy like the Rockets, the Houston Aeros return to the ice tonight at 7:05 for another game with the Quad City Flames. The Flames defeated the Aeros 4-2 on Monday night, and while the Aeros are just hanging onto the final spot in the playoffs, a victory by Quad City tonight at Toyota Center will pull them to within two points of the Aeros in the standings.
The Aeros wore their St. Patrick's Day jerseys Monday night, and they're supposed to wear them again tonight. Some of you may have noticed that some of the new players were wearing the numbers of some of the injured players, and we were told this was because the team had ordered the jerseys with certain numbers and didn't have time to get new ones shipped in.
So imagine the fun that we might have tonight. The Aeros and the parent club Wild are trying to get some new talent to the club, and they're trying to get that talent here, soon. Thus if they're here tonight, I can't wait to see just how many players will be wearing the same numbers.
The Chron's beat writer, Andrew Ferraro, and I had to wait to interview Aeros coach Kevin Constantine on Monday because he was in his office meeting with Milan Gajic. Gajic played some games for the Aeros back earlier in the season, but had visa problems (or contract problems, depending on whom you believe), and didn't stick around. The Aeros can't suit him up tonight, however, because he's not part of the clear day roster – this involves an AHL rule stating who is eligible to play for the team once the NHL trading deadline has passed. Once this deadline has passed, only players who are on the clear day roster are allowed to play, or players who brought up as emergency injury replacements – e.g. Anton Khudobin, Troy Riddle and Matt Kassasian – or players who have just finished college or junior hockey seasons.
But I'd bet on someone being "injured" very soon, otherwise the expense of bringing him into Houston wouldn't make sense. The Wild are also supposed to be signing a couple of young players who just finished with their junior hockey seasons, so there's a chance they could be suiting up soon.
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The effort is there for the team, every night. But the talent on the offensive end is not. Constantine's put this team in the position to make the playoffs, and the guys are doing everything possible, but they just can't seem to pull it off. Hopefully, some new blood, especially some offensive talent, can really help the team get over the top.
As to injuries, while Peter Olvecky returned from injury Monday night, Nolan Schaefer has retweaked his groin injury, and Erik Reitz told us that he's got no idea of when he will be able to return.
And for those who plan to come Thursday night for the Miss Aeros bikini contest, here's an interesting little note for you: For a $30 donation, you can escort the lovely young ladies (in their bikinis) onto the ice during one of the intermissions. Also, at some point on Thursday night, it will be possible to get a picture in the penalty box with the lovely contestants.
And the Aeros pushing of sex appeal will continue on Friday night as Miss Southeast Texas 2008 and Miss Teen Southeast Texas will sing the Anthem. There's no word on whether they will be singing it in their swimsuits. Not that you need sex to attend a game when you get the chance to watch a team battling for a playoff berth. – John Royal